PEORIA – Joyce Dawn Opem, 85, of Peoria, passed away on Tuesday, February 16, 2021, at Lutheran Hillside Village in Peoria, Ill.
She was born on February 27, 1935, in Hartford, Wis., to Joseph and Nelda (Riemer) Stefan. She married John Opem on January 30, 1960, in Chicago. He preceded her in death on February 1, 2020. She was also preceded in death by one sister, Charity and one brother, Roger.
Survivors include her children Jeffrey (Kim) Opem of Glen Ellyn, Ill., Jennifer (William) Ziemniak of Morton and Jonathan Opem of Mesa, Ariz. Other survivors include seven grandchildren, Bethany (Ben) Ragains, Daniel (Anna) Ziemniak, Michael Ziemniak, Joseph Ziemniak, Coral Opem, Pearl Opem, and Daniel Opem; her 10 surviving siblings, Gerald, Nancy, Wayne, Melissa, Brian, Keith, Dwight, Pamela, Drusilla and Camille; and many nieces and nephews.
Joyce graduated from Hartford High School in 1953, and continued on to Dodge County Teacher’s College, where she earned her teaching license. She began her career at Tamarack School, a one-room schoolhouse where she taught 8 grades in one room. Joyce continued to educate students in rural Wisconsin and later in Chicago until she met the love of her life, John. They eloped in 1960 and Joyce spent the next 20 years raising their three children. Joyce was a whiz with her sewing machine and crochet hook, creative with her gardening and crafts, and a lifelong coupon clipper. She always stressed the value of education and passed on her love of teaching, with her daughter and four of her grandchildren becoming teachers. Joyce and John enjoyed many years of traveling internationally, but Joyce really found her calling when she became a Grandma. All her grandkids have fond memories of baking, crafting, reading, fishing, and gardening with her and Grandpa John. Joyce created beautiful scrapbooks for each grandchild that will forever be cherished. When John passed away in 2020, Joyce truly lost her soul mate. While her family will miss her greatly, they are so happy that she is together again with John and in heaven with Jesus.
Cremation rites have been accorded. A private memorial service for Joyce will be held on Saturday, March 6, 2021, at Advent Lutheran Church in Morton, with Pastor Becky Swanson officiating. The service will be live streamed for the public via Zoom at https://bit.ly/2xAM9ef. The live stream will start at 9:45 a.m. and the service will begin at 10 a.m. Burial of cremated remains will be at a later date at Zumbrota Cemetery in Zumbrota, Minn.
Memorials may be made to Advent Lutheran Church in Morton.
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